Mac & cheese is easy to nail (the two eponymous ingredients are great on their own) but also distressingly easy to muck up and overcomplicate.
But when done right, adding a little flourish to your mac -- in the form of ranch, bacon, or bacon and ranch, for example -- can be exactly what you need to justify eating the stuff for an entire week straight. One of the best places to find extra ingredients to wedge between your mac and/or cheese is Pinterest. So we found some. And now, here they are.
Cajun shrimp mac & cheese
This Bayou-inspired, breaded mac & cheese recipe uses three cheeses (cheddar, Jack, and Parmesan) to make it the second-best Cajun mac & cheese option out there. The first is obviously just blending your Popeyes order with three slices of Kraft.
Mushroom and white truffle mac & cheese
For those who wish to bougie-fy their mac (and if you do, you are probably not the kind of person who would say the word "bougie-fy"), you can add a dose of class to your m & c in the form of shrooms. And if that summer following Phil Lesh taught me anything, shrooms make everything better. Except petting zoos, actually.
Pulled pork spätzle mac & cheese
Spätzle is a soft German egg noodle. Pulled pork is what an Übermensch would conjure if someone said, "Hey Übermensch, can you create the most delicious meat known to man?"
It's a wundermeat and a wundernoodle. Also, there's cheese.
Gluten-free vegan mac & cheese
Normally, I would never support going gluten-free or vegan, but I do understand that folks have dietary and/or moral issues that just can't be avoided. If you have to go down that route, this is your best bet.
Tortellini bacon mac & cheese
If my Italian grandma could see me now, advising people to defile tortellini with bacon and Velveeta, she'd be rolling in her grave.
Actually, I don't have an Italian grandma. My Irish grandma is rolling in her grave because I called her Italian.
Cheeseburger mac & cheese
When I asked our national burger critic Kevin Alexander if he'd ever be down to rate this (surprisingly easy!) cheeseburger mac & cheese recipe -- with ground beef, shredded cheddar, and bacon -- he firmly asked me to leave him and his family alone. Which I'll take as a solid "maybe."
Ranch mac & cheese
Einstein's third rule of combustion claims that every food is inherently doubled in value when ranch dressing is added. In that vein, this ridiculously easy-to-make mac & cheese aligns three cheeses -- colby, Monterey Jack, Parmesan -- crushed-up Ritz crackers, and the elixir of the gods themselves (ranch) to create a metaphysical, cheesy recipe worthy of your dinner plans.
Mac & cheese pizza
Some call this an unholy alliance of the world's best foods. I call it a casual supper.
Chili mac & cheese
Chili is a time-efficient way to dress up your mac & cheese. Which is completely different from Chilli, my favorite member of the iconic pop/R&B group TLC.
Bacon and broccoli mac & cheese
The bacon offsets the broccoli. Problem solved.
Chicken Parmesan mac & cheese
Some may argue this combo of chicken Parmigiana, rotini pasta, and creamy Wisconsin mozzarella maybe be a little too much. I f*cking hate those people.
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